Tech Tip of the Week

This week you will learn a simple trick that will allow you to share individual copies of a Google spreadsheet with your students (or others) – a virtual copy machine!

Important to Know:

  1. Students/others must have Google Accounts for this trick to work.

  2. At this point, the trick only works with the spreadsheet. It does not work with documents or presentations.

The Issue:

The teacher enters information into a spreadsheet and wants each student to have his/her own individual copy..

In the past, you would most likely do one of the following things:

  1. 1.Print the spreadsheet, make copies, and distribute them to students. (This wastes paper and converts the digital document to analog.)

  2. 2.Share the spreadsheet with them and then instruct them to make a copy. (This adds two spreadsheets (the original and the copy) to students’ Google drive area which might be confusing.)

  3. 3.Create a template using the template gallery and then give students access to the template. (This requires several extra steps for the teacher and potentially makes the template public to all.)

The Solution:

Use the following “trick” to easily share the spreadsheet.

Overview of Trick:

  1. 1.Create the spreadsheet.

  2. 2.Change the sharing options to “Anyone with the link.”

  3. 3.Add “&newcopy” to the end of the link to share.

  4. 4.When you share the appended URL, it “forces” students to make a copy!


Step-by-Step Instructions:

It looks like a lot of steps, but it is really quite simple!

Getting Ready

  1. 1.Go to:

  2. 2.Click the red create button and choose “Spreadsheet.”

  3. 3.Add the desired information to the spreadsheet.

  4. 4.Click the “Share” button in the upper right corner of the page.

  5. 5.Click “Change.”

  6. 6.In the sharing setting window, click to select “Anyone with the link.”

  7. 7.Click “Save.”

  8. 8.Copy the provided URL.


Applying the “Trick”

  1. 1.Go to one of these URL-shortening websites:

  2. 2.Paste the link you copied in step 6 above.

  3. 3.Here’s the trick: Add the following (without quotation marks) to the end of the URL: “&newcopy

  4. 4.Use the provided buttons to create the shortened URL.

  5. 5.Provide the shortened URL to students.

  6. 6.When students enter the URL, they will see this:

  7. 7.Students click the “Yes, make a copy.” link.
    Note - If students are not logged into their Google accounts, it will require them to log in first.

  8. 8.That’s it!

Try It!:

Click the link below to see an example of this in action:

Remember, this will only work if you have a Google account.


Use the method above to easily give students their own copy of the following:

  1. Math problems to solve

  2. Questions to answer over science or social studies content

  3. Study guides

  4. Notes from class

  5. Examples of exemplary work

  6. Spelling/vocabulary lists

  7. Outline of notes (students fill in additional information)

  8. A list of web resources

  9. A web scavenger hunt

  10. Sentences/paragraphs to correct

  11. Story starters

  12. A pre-formatted journal template

  13. An individual grade book template

  14. A business letter template

  15. A resume template

  16. A fakebook template